The most interesting aspect of George C. Scott’s directorial film debut “Rage” is its placidity of tone, especially considering the coiled ferocity of its star and the potentially explosive subject matter. The film’s depiction of an accidental release of toxic nerve gas onto a rural ranch area, and the subsequent exposure of a father and son- not to mention hundreds of the rancher’s sheep -is meted out in an uncomplicated and unhurried fashion in which there are no real narrative twists or unforeseen revelations on which to hang the audience’s attention while the film rather serenely unfolds to its predetermined and inevitable conclusion. Without the usual viscera prodding bells and whistles inherent in film thrillers, “Rage” becomes a rather predictable exercise in which the effects of outrageous and careless behavior on the part of callous authoritarianism subjects a hopeless victimization upon the weak and innocent, a scenario that, while not exactly original if reduced to thematic generalities, is certainly made interesting (and certainly one-of-a-kind among like minded films) by the deliberation in the sedateness with which the events unfold.
Scott himself, who portrays the infected rancher Dan Logan, excels at characters who are churning cauldrons of fiery emotion; the antithesis of his role here, an unremarkable everyman whose emotional range appears to be suspended somewhere between calm and sleepily calm- even during later events in which he begins exacting retribution, there is none of the eruptive rage promised by the film’s title, nor is there any visible escalation in the immediacy with which the events are portrayed by George C. Scott the director, the entire story told from the same flat, almost disengaged point-of-view.
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